Emperor Penguins Suffer Breeding Failures In 2023 Amid Record Low Sea Ice

"LONDON - Record low sea ice in late 2023 led to breeding failures in one-fifth of Antarctica's emperor penguin colonies, scientists with the British Antarctic Survey said on Thursday.

Emperors - the world's largest penguin species and one of only two endemic to Antarctica — depend on sea ice firmly attached to the shore to lay their eggs and raise their chicks. If ice breaks up too early, the chicks will be forced to enter the sea before their waterproof feathers have fully come in.

"They'll either freeze to death or they'll drown," said Peter Fretwell, a scientist with the British Antarctic Survey who studies wildlife using satellites.

That happened in 14 of Antarctica's 66 emperor penguin colonies last year as the extent of Antarctic's sea ice shrank to a record low, driven in part by climate change-fuelled heating. Tens of thousands of chicks are likely to have died."

Gloria Dickie reports for Reuters April 25, 2024.

Source: Reuters, 04/26/2024